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From idyllic views to tight-knit communities, there’s a lot to love about island living. But unless you’re a lucky native or wealthy transplant, island life can seem more like a pipe dream than a real possibility. 

However, owning an island home is more plausible than you might think. With a bit of digging and inspiration, you could be living the islander life in no time.

The Pros And Cons Of A Year-Round Vacation

As with any location, there are pros and cons to living on an island year-round. One of the most noticeable benefits of island life is the scenery. You get to witness Mother Nature in all of her extremes, from calm and serene to wild and powerful. 

Additionally, islands tend to have close-knit communities due to their limited geographical area. This makes them especially appealing to those who prefer a slower, small-town pace. 

Taking up residence on an island also means greater access to fresh foods, be it produce or seafood. Of course, some groceries cost more due to high shipping costs. But striking an affordable balance is possible, albeit a little tricky.

Finally, an island offers isolation and relaxation. Those seeking solitude would be hard-pressed to find a better spot than in the middle of the ocean. 

And despite a red-hot housing market, it’s easier than you think to find island real estate for less than $150k.

1. Hawaii: 137 Islands In One State

Honolulu, Hawaii. Waikiki beach and Honolulu's skyline.
(emperorcosar/Shutterstock.com)

The United States’ 50th state is actually a chain of 137 islands and islets. Featuring mountains, volcanos, and lush forests–Hawaii is a paradise that requires no passport. 

Hawaii’s capital of Honolulu offers many affordable bungalows and condos. For only $129,000, you can enjoy small island life with a big city vibe in a sleek, modernized condo. This quaint apartment half a block from the ocean is only $105,000. 

The island state also features modestly priced homes ripe for renovations. This 1,200-square foot fixer-upper in Captain Cook is only $109,500, which means you can use all that money you saved to create your oceanic dream home. 

Crime rates in Hawaii are relatively low, and the overall culture is warm, fun, and welcoming. But there are natural dangers to consider, like tropical rains and lava flows. 

However, these are relatively small prices to pay for a slice of paradise.

2. Deal Island: Maryland’s Marshy Getaway

Aerial shot of boats in Chesapeake Bay in Deal Island, Maryland
(tokar/Shutterstock.com)

Not all islands are covered in palm trees and sunshine. For those who enjoy the visceral power of the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, Maryland’s many off-shore islands are the perfect destination. 

Deal Island is a small fishing community in the Chesapeake Bay. The island’s roots stretch back to colonial times. 

The island also features affordable housing, like this three-bed, one-bath bungalow for $109,900. You can even stay within walking distance of the ocean in this two-story home for $149,900. Or separate yourself from the water in an even more affordable $89,000 ranch.

The islands off of Maryland’s coast overflow with history and cultural heritage. Nearby Smith Island features similarly priced homes and a unique dialect borne of its Irish, Scottish, and English settlers.  

Like all small islands, climate change stands to threaten this community’s way of life. But for the time being, Deal Island remains an interesting relic of American history.

3. Mustang Island: Texan White Sands

Mustang Island TX pier and oceanfront
(Tricia Daniel/Shutterstock.com)

Can’t decide between the west and east coast? Opt for the Gulf Coast with Mustang Island, Texas. Located off Corpus Christi, this 18-mile-long island is famous for its beautiful beaches and rich wildlife. 

Enjoy the dunes of this narrow barrier island in a $150,000 condo overlooking the beach. Or start from scratch with a vacant seaside lot. You get all the benefits of an HOA, including grounds upkeep and a public pool, without the cookie-cutter look. 

Mustang Island State Park is a short drive away from any property on the island. The park features camping and RV spots, a paddling trail, and some of the best shallow-water fishing in Texas. 

The population of Mustang Island is around 30,000, making it just small enough to feel close-knit without being overbearing.  

Mustang Island provides all the fresh seafood, unique wildlife, and powdery sand of a tropical island without the headache of moving overseas.

4. Washington Island: A Great Lakes Gem

Lavender fields and white gazebo on Washington Island, Wisconsin
(Hank Erdmann/Shutterstock.com)

Who said you had to leave the Midwest to enjoy island life? Washington Island is a small island located between Green Bay and Lake Michigan off the coast of Wisconsin.  

This cozy cabin sitting on a near-acre lot is currently listed at only $137,500. The property offers a nearby waterfront area with a dock, a large great room, and natural privacy. 

Or you can start from scratch in a lush, emerald green forest lot listed at $75,000. The dense plants guard against harsh lake winds, while the deciduous leaves offer an exciting, multi-colored backdrop year-round. 

Washington Island features one of the oldest and largest Icelandic communities in the US. It’s also the home of the Midwest’s largest lavender farm, three parks, two beaches, and a fiber arts school. 

If you love bitter cocktails, then you’ll be in good company on Washington Island. The small island’s population consumes more bitters than anyone else in the world. Bottoms up!

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